Adventure, baby!

Disney Travel

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau On The Norris Glacier

An icy breeze blows against our faces and the high pitched sounds of excited dogs yipping fills the air. We’re racing at high speed through a snowy winter wonderland, pulled by a team of 12 strong, extremely enthusiastic dogs who live to race. High up on a glacier in remote Alaska, this remarkable experience is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that we can’t believe is actually happening.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

On this special day, we’re dog sledding with the mushers and sled dogs of the Iditarod, an annual race that sees teams of people and canines pitch themselves against each other in a race across an arctic landscape. It’s a battle of endurance, speed and survival.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

High up on the Norris Glacier we visit their training camp. It’s a chance to not only see natural beauty that is so spectacular that it makes your heart ache, but also an opportunity to get a glimpse at the unique way of life for the people who dedicate their entire lives to their dogs.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The opportunity for this incredible experience comes while we are in Juneau, Alaska. We get picked up by staff from Era Helicopters at the dock where our ship, the Disney Wonder, had parked early that morning. A quick bus ride to the heliport and we are given a life vest, a weigh-in and watch a safety video. No bags, water bottles etc are allowed on the helicopter and must be placed in a locker before boarding. My daughter and I wear waterproof boots, but snow booties are supplied for those wearing sneakers.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Each group and their seating assignment is decided on weight to ensure an even distribution in the helicopter. In ours, my husband and our daughter, Cheese, sit up front and I get placed in the rear next to a window.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

It’s Cheese’s first helicopter flight and we aren’t sure how she will go. It’s an exhilarating (and potentially terrifying) experience for adults, so for a five-year-old, we have no idea what to expect. She’s really quiet when we board and while we are taking off, but, once we are in the air and she discovers the “talk” button, it’s game on and we have a running commentary of every amazing detail she spots out the window: mountains, glaciers and tiny buildings nestled into the ice.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The flight from Juneau to the Norris Glacier lasts about 20 minutes. We get a bird’s-eye view of the glaciers and can see the vibrant blue of newly-calved ice. Our pilot, Ryan, talks us through the glaciers and points out which had receded and which advanced back to the same level each year. Most are receding more and more each year. It’s a confronting look at the effects of global warming.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

On the Norris Glacier we are met by the Alaska Heli Mush crew, who take us to meet the sled dogs, AKA the stars of the show. 20 people and almost 200 dogs live on top of this remote glacier during summer, with their entire lives devoted to training. As the only way to get to the glacier site is by helicopter, the entire camp must be flown up the same way that we did – via helicopter, with special dog boxes made to carry about 12 dogs per flight. In September the dogs and camp are all flown back off the glacier, with the camp being stored in a warehouse and the sled dogs continuing their training and racing in other homes.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

The dogs we have flown so far to meet are in training to run the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which is held every March in Alaska over a distance of 1,049 miles (1688 km). Mushers and a team of 16 dogs complete the race in 8–15 days, through the harshest of terrains – through forests, over hills and mountain passes, in the coldest conditions imaginable. The Iditarod race, which began in 1973, is highly competitive and a win is incredibly prestigious.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We learn that the sled dogs who run the Iditarod are “Alaskan huskies”, which is actually not a breed, but rather category of dog. An Alaskan Husky is generally a mix of many different breeds that each give the dogs various strengths, such as Siberian Huskies, Greyhounds and German Shorthaired Pointers. The dogs are selectively bred to create dogs that have the desired traits of speed, stamina, good feet, size, and coat type.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We are introduced to the dogs one at a time and learn their names, plus a bit about their personalities, then gave their coats a brush and assist giving the dogs a wellness check. They’re much friendlier than we had expected working dogs to be, and greet us with face licks if we’re not fast enough to get out of the way.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Next is strapping on their snow booties (only some of the dogs need them to protect their feet from the water, not the cold) and harness them up, ready for the ride. Our sled is led by two dogs both called “Otter”. One is bred for endurance and one for speed. As the racing dogs are around large groups of people and other animals when they race, it’s important for them to be well socialised, so the cuddle time we have with the dogs is beneficial to both dogs and visitors alike.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

After a quick lesson in how to drive the sled, we jump on and are off, racing in the snow. The dogs know what’s coming and literally leap with excitement at the chance to run. It’s so hot for the dogs that they’ve been lying in the snow to cool off, while we’re so cold that we pull our beanies down over our ears and tuck chins into our fleeces.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

With the two Otters leading our team of dogs, we glide through the snow to the tune of our musher’s commands of “Hike!” “Gee!” and “Haw!”, and Cheese’s gleeful cry, “Mush, mush!”. We each take turns driving the sleds as we race through the snowy glacier top, with awe-inspiring scenery on every side. Snow-capped mountains reach high around us, as we glide through a winter wonderland that photographs can’t do justice.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

When our sled ride is complete, we feed the dogs a treat and thank them for the ride with hugs and pats. One of the Otters, we learn, is a particular softie who sleeps inside with the musher and does an incredible job as a heater. Running our hands through their thick, soft coats it’s easy to understand how these dogs thrive in cold climates.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We say a sad goodbye to our new canine friends and are taken on a tour of the rest of the camp, which consists of 10 living tents, a cook tent, vet clinic and community tent. No Internet, cell phones, or TV – the crew live completely off the grid on their remote glacier with the absolute basics. The life of a musher is a simple one that is 100% about the dogs they care for.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Our tour continues with puppies, who will in time be trained as sled dogs. They meet us with joyful licks and wiggling tails; 7-month-old babies who benefit from the socialisation visitors like us give them as much as it gives us joy to play with them.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Cheese merrily chases the puppies and tumbles with them in the snow in a pile of canine and human limbs and icy snowflakes flying in the air. Her dislike for the snow pants we made her wear is forgotten as she lies on her back and makes snow angels, and throw giant snowballs at our heads.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Just before the helicopters arrive to take us back to Juneau, we are served freshly baked cookies, snacks and hot drinks in a heated tent, which is exactly the thawing out we need after a few hours playing in the snow.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

We arrive back in port after our return helicopter flight in awe of the experience we have just had. Have we really just flown to a glacier? Have we really just mushed dogs through the snow? When we say it out loud it sounds like a dream or a scene from a movie that doesn’t happen to regular people like us.

We flick through the photos and videos in disbelief that this magical day has been ours. It’s true, this memory is real and has left a snowy pawprint in our hearts that we will never forget.

Dog Sledding In Juneau on the Norris Glacier Alaska

Our whole experience lasted rough 2.5 hours and was an “extended” experience. We booked through Disney Cruise Line but you can also book this experience directly through Alaska Heli Mush, in partnership with Era Helicopters.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise

What To Pack For An Alaskan Cruise

Wondering what should be on your Alaska cruise packing list? This is one of those trips where you need to take a lot of items as the weather might be reasonably warm, or incredibly cold and rainy. You might be walking around all day in the rain or even snow. We recently sailed the Inside Passage on the Disney Wonder and found that every day was a different temperature to dress for.

The daytime temperatures in Alaska from May to September range from 55-65˚F (12-18˚C). It can get to as hot as 80˚F (27˚C) on the odd occasion too. Evenings range between 40-50˚F (4-10˚C). Generally the inside of the ship will be warm but you will need to rug up on deck, particularly if your ship gets close to a glacier.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Cruise: What To Pack

The key is layers! Lots and lots of layers.

For both general cruise wear and excursions

– Two pairs of jeans
– Seven tees
– Two sweaters or hoodies of various weights
– One heavy fleece jacket (I love Kathmandu and North Face)
– Seven pairs of underwear
– Two bras
– Wind/rain jacket (Mine is this Gortex – find a similar one by Kathmandu or North Face)
– One dress for formal night (a second one for semi-formal night if you like to dress up)
– Cardigan for formal night
– Beanie
– Lightweight or medium scarf
– One pair warm socks
– Seven pairs of athletic/walking socks
– Sleep clothes
– Weatherproof pants for kids, particularly if you are planning a trip to a glacier.
– Gloves (weatherproof ones for kids)
– Princess dress for little girls sailing a Disney cruise – they are more expensive to buy on board. Many girls wear the princess dresses every day on board.

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Footwear

– Sneakers/trainers for walking in (I wear lightweight Skechers)
– Ballet flats or sandals/heels for evening attire
– Waterproof shoes – I wore these L.L. Bean Boots in the rain and snow.

Alaska, USA

Toiletries and other items

– Toothbrush
– Toothpaste
– Body wash (the cruise we were on has soap but no wash)
– Shampoo and conditioner (unless you are happy to use the generic cruise one)
– Sunscreen (for the rare chance there is sun)

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Other items

– Sun hats
– Sunglasses
– Medications including seasickness meds
– Backpack for port adventures (I use this foldable backpack by New Outlander)
– Refillable water bottle
– Binoculars (optional if you don’t have much room)

Disney Wonder, Alaska Cruise

Cameras

– DSLR (Mine is a Canon 5D)
– Point and shoot for around the ship (Mine is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100)
GoPro HERO5 for video
– Chargers for all electronics plus power converters. The cruise ship has North American power outlets.

That’s it! You’re ready for Alaska! Note: If you’re travelling in August it might be a bit colder, so add an extra fleece layer into your packing.

This blog post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through this page I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Royal Court Royal Tea: Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

For little girls who dream of princesses, there is no experience more magical than the Royal Court Royal Tea aboard the Disney Cruise Line fleet. The tea is available on all four ships – we experienced our tea aboard the Disney Wonder on our 7-night Alaska cruise.

During Royal Court Royal Tea, children are crowned young princesses or dubbed royal knights, in a special celebration that is full of songs, gifts, food and royal guests. It’s a truly special experience that is unforgettable for kids and their parents alike.

The Royal Court Royal Tea is offered just once during the cruises to a small group, making it an intimate setting. We tried to book the tea last year on our Caribbean cruise and weren’t able to secure spots. This year on the Wonder I was a silver Castaway Club member thanks to my previous sailing, so was able to book it with my early booking window.

When we boarded the Disney Wonder, a special invitation was waiting for us on our bed, with the request to call and let the staff know which princess we would like on our specially designed cupcake. Belle is the favourite in our family, so a Belle cupcake was requested.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Our tea took place at 3pm in Triton’s, the main dining room on the ship. We joined the other guests outside and checked in with the cast members who were from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique that we had visited the previous day. Many girls visited the same day as the tea so had perfectly coiffed princess hair.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

At 3pm, the Royal Tea experience began with a royal greeting from Lady Chamomile, the host of the event. Each child was escorted by a Royal Page into the dining room, with a special individual announcement and crowning (or knighting) before being taken to their dining spot at the tables.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Each dining spot was filled with beautiful gifts for the kids. A large Aurora doll, Cinderella jewellery box with a charm bracelet and necklace, large autograph book and fancy princess pen was ready for each “princess”.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Lady Chamomile was joined by Chef Brule, and the two entertained the kids throughout the tea with singing and stories. The pair were immensely fun and had excellent singing voices.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Tea was served to all guests – apple juice to the kids, real tea for the adults, and tiered platters of sweets and sandwiches. We had a lot of mix ups with the food after letting them know we were vegetarian, but really there was no need for any trouble over the food – with the exception of one sandwich (which had salmon), the entire tea was vegetarian.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

The staff did their best to cater to all dietary requirements, including vegan and allergy-friendly options which were given to us by mistake, but which were happily received by other vegan diners.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

During the tea, three princesses joined us for the celebration – Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana. Each princess made their way around the room, spending quite a lot of time with each child for autographs and photos, and leaving them with an additional charm for their bracelets.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

The children had a magical experience at the tea – so much special pampering and entertainment made this tea party an incredible highlight for the cruise.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

A few days after the tea party we receive a luxe folio with the photo taken from the tea inside as a special take-home gift. It was a very thoughtful way to end the royal experience.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

Pricing for Royal High Tea is currently $270 for one adult and child. Each additional child is $210 and an adult is $69.

Royal Court Royal Tea, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line

More information on the Royal Court Royal Tea.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Meeting Anna and Elsa at Epcot’s Royal Sommerhus

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The brand new Royal Sommerhus has opened at Epcot in Walt Disney World as a permanent home for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

We visited the Royal Sommerhus five days after it opened, and perhaps because it hadn’t been advertised or promoted anywhere that we saw, it was really quiet, especially compared to the Mickey and Friends character meet and greet, which had a very long line and a 25 minute wait.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Expecting a long line like we found in Disneyland on our last visit, we bolted to the Royal Sommerhus as soon as the gates opened, and found … a 10 minute wait at 9:15 am. We walked past the house several times during the day and the wait time was never over 10 minutes, making it officially the fastest place to meet Anna and Elsa out of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disney Cruises.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The Royal Sommerhus is located between Mexico and Norway in the World Showcase section at Epcot in WDW, just before the new ride, Frozen Ever After. The house is set up to appear like Anna and Elsa’s home. The queue to meet the characters winds through the house, past their bookshelves, lounge, fireplace and staircase. The attention to detail is amazing.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The meet and greet takes place at the end of the walk through the house, with seperate sections to meet each character.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Anna was first when we visited, and then Elsa.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Each character spoke with Cheese briefly and then posted for pictures, both for the Disney official photographer, and also for me. While there is no pressure to buy the photos and you can absolutely take your own, I like to take photos on my own camera and also have the photographer take a few, so at the end of the day if mine don’t work out I have a back up in the Disney photographer’s images so I always get a great pic.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

At the end of the meet and greet guests are ushered into the very well stocked gift shop, filled with Frozen merchandise.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Our time at Disneyland was magical! My almost five-year-old and I spent a wonderful day-and-a-half at the park and it just wasn’t enough time. While we loved pretty much everything about the experience, we had to have our favourite rides and experiences, right? Here they are, through a mix of photos from our last trip as well as our time at Disneyland in 2014:

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland ride: Mad Tea Party
So much fun we went on it over and over and over again.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Kind Arthur’s Carousel
It’s a gorgeous carousel and rarely has a queue.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Dumbo The Flying Elephant
This is just fun. Best to visit in the morning when the lines are short.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Character meet and greets
Ask at guest services for a schedule of character meet and greets so you’re always the first one there.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Jedi training: The Trials of the Temple
My daughter still talks about defeating Darth Vader. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Buzz Lightyear ride
We went on this ride so many times. My daughter loved the laser gun that you use to shoot targets.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Absolutely favourite of my daughter’s. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Mickey’s Toontown photo opps
While there are cool rides in Toontown, my daughter loved all of the pretend “toon” things she could climb on.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Cinderella’s castle
Enchanting – an absolute must to walk through.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrowland rides: Star Tours and Space Mountain
A bit scary for little ones perhaps, but we did them anyway and survived to tell the tale.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Frontierland: Jungle Cruise & Tarzan’s Tree House
Easy fun for little ones.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn
The only place to meet characters like Winnie The Pooh, Chip & Dale and Eeyore. Book in advance.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet princesses at the Royal Hall
A must for any princess-lovers! Meet four princess in the one hall.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Must-see – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
See all your fave Disney characters.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow
Walk through a replica of Pixie Hollow, meeting Tinkerbell and friends.

Get tips on planning the perfect Disneyland trip here.

What are your Disneyland highlights?

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The hot ticket at Disney California Adventure Park this year is the brand new stage show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

The show is exactly what you would imagine it to be: a very closely followed adaptation of the movie Frozen, performed live on stage by excellent performers on some seriously stunning staging.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The show is one hour in duration (the movie is 1 hr 49 minutes) and as a result there are small cuts in places – a few minor characters are either missing or have their parts shortened significantly, but the changes I noticed the most were to take away anything remotely “scary”.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As a result, the show is billed as “suitable for all ages” – and I have to agree, it was extremely mild and even my scaredy cat Cheese who refuses to see the movie at the moment because she deems it “too scary”, didn’t find a single moment of the show anything other than thoroughly entertaining.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As per all of Disney’s productions, Frozen – Live At The Hyperion is of the highest standard. I was particularly impressed with their Elsa, considering the difficulty of the song Let It Go, (which she nailed, by the way).

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The set design for the show is incredibly impressive, particularly the scenes from the sisters’ childhood, where the props are made larger than usual to make the “child” Anna and Elsa really look small, even though they are played by adults.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Even with the show significantly shortened from the original movie, it seemed a perfect length, with all the major songs and moments covered beautifully. It was also a great length for all of the small children in the audience, who were happily belting out the lyrics to each number and wiggling joyfully throughout the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Tips on how to see the show:

 

As the show is so popular, I advise getting tickets using the Disney FASTPASS Service, which provides first-come, first-served tickets to same day Frozen – Live at the Hyperion shows.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me
Tickets are available when the park opens at the Disney FASTPASS Service machines located to the left of the Hyperion Theater. Tickets are distributed for the first show of the day via the machine until all the tickets run out. After the first show is sold out, tickets for the second show are made available, and so forth. Guests are not able to choose a specific time show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

At the FASTPASS machine, insert your park admission ticket and you will be given a Disney FASTPASS ticket printed with your Frozen – Live at the Hyperion showtime and recommended arrival time. Pay attention to the suggested time and turn up as early as possible. My ticket suggested I arrive 40 minutes before the show started. We arrived 30 minutes before showtime and we were among the last people seated at the end of the queue.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

If you have a stroller with you, be very aware of where it is parked when you go into the show. Our stroller was taken from us and parked by a Disney cast member and we didn’t see where it was taken. As a result, at the end of the show it took us a very long time to search for our stroller among a sea of about a hundred or so.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Get more information on Frozen – Live At The Hyperion and the latest show times here

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Meet Anna & Elsa at Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The Frozen sisters have found a permanent home in California Adventure Park’s Hollywood Land. The meet and greet isn’t anywhere near as crazy popular as it was when we visited two years ago. Back then, if you didn’t get to the link as soon as the park opened you were in for an all-day wait.

This time, we did the rounds in the morning to get FastPasses for our fave rides and then came back to meet the sisters. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is located deep inside the Animation Academy within the Disney California Adventure Park.

From the outside, it’s unclear that this is even the place to meed the Frozen duo as there are no clear signs that say so.  We asked a helpful Disney cast member outside who confirmed that this was the place and pointed where to go.

The Animation Academy has several experiences inside, just one of which is the Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome. it’s a huge space with Disney films playing all over the walls, which makes waiting to meet the sisters much more palatable. The queue wasn’t too bad – maybe 10 people before us, and we waited in total about 30 minutes to meet the pair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Anna and Elsa share an Arandelle-themed room in the Animation Academy for meeting their royal guests. I really think the pair are best as a dual act – they play off each other, make witty jokes, and in general are so much fun when they’re experienced together.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The princess and queen really took their time talking to Cheese. They wanted to know all about her kingdom and commented on her beautiful hair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

After the meet and greet, with Frozen stars in our eyes, we head off to the new show, Frozen – Live that is now playing at the Hyperion Theatre next door. If you have an avid artist on your hands, drop by the Royal Academy (it’s tucked inside the Animation Academy) where a real-life artist is on hand to teach you how to sketch characters like Olaf and Marshmallow.

Get more information about Frozen experiences at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Disney Cruise Port of Call: Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line (DCL) guests on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-44

Because the island is only used by guests debarking from the Disney boats, it’s possible to enjoy a fun-filled day without spending an extra cent.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Many of the amenities on the island are FOC for DCL guests, such as tram transport to the different parts of the island, a full buffet lunch and beverage station, several gorgeous beaches, character meet and greets, child care for kids aged 3-12 at Scuttle’s Cove and the two water play areas, Pelican Plunge (more below) and Spring-a-leak, which we didn’t find on our day at Castaway Cove. Don’t have kids? Adults can enjoy Serenity Cove, the 18+ area on the island.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

There is so much to do on this island, particularly for families, that many guests say it’s their fave place to stop even on repeat cruises.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure

On our Castaway Cay day we booked into the Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure, suitable for guests aged 5 and up. Despite Cheese being not quite 5, it was fine for her to join us.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

We checked into Ray’s Stingray Hut straight off the boat and were given a very quick run down by the crew on how to put on our gear (lifejackets and snorkel equipment) and told the rules of how to handle the stingrays during the feeding, which was the first part of the adventure.

Into the water, we gathered around platforms thigh-deep in water and held pieces of slimy fish in our fingers for the stingrays to eat. While we waited for the rays to approach the platform a few of the more curious of the stingrays rubbed against our legs. Don’t worry – the stingrays here to not have stingers, making them completely harmless.

The stingrays caught the scent of food and slid themselves onto the platform to slurp up the food from our fingers, tickling out palms with their rubbery mouths. After the food supply ran out, we donned our snorkels and went for a swim to watch these amazing creatures underwater.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

See our Castaway Cay adventures in the video below at 1:42.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-48

Castaway Cay Beaches

The majority of people who visit Castaway Cay are content to just relax on the beach and paddle in the soft waves.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

We hired a water tube for some serious floating action. There are several beaches to enjoy, all marked clearly on the island’s map, so while the beaches are busy you’d never guess that a few thousand people were there all at the same time.

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

The free tram makes it very easy to get between the beaches, and there are also plenty of shaded deck chairs available for lounging.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-47
Pelican Plunge

After the free buffet lunch we walked to the Pelican Plunge to check out the water play area.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-49 disney-cruise-castway-cay-55

It looked a bit scary for our little one, so we contented ourselves with squirting the water guns over the side while watching people climb up and slide down the plunge adjacent.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-62 disney-cruise-castway-cay-58 Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Castaway Cay Tips
*No need to bring a towel – there are plenty of towels available on the island.
*Do bring sunscreen, hat, water shoes/thongs and a refillable water bottle to fill at the free beverage station.
*Head to the buffet either at the beginning or end of service when the queues are shorter.
*Bring some cash if you’re planning on shopping.
*There is occasionally sea lice in the water – you may want to buy some Sea Safe just incase. We didn’t have any problems with the sea lice.
*Head back to the ship early to ride the Aquaduck with zero queues!

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Get more info on Castaway Cay here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Disneyland Planning Tips: How To have The Best Disneyland Holiday Ever

Disneyland Planning Tips via christineknight.me

Disneyland is magical for adults and kids alike. It’s such an incredibly designed place that keeps the magic of childhood well and truly alive, through rides, entertainment and live characters. Disneyland is also a place that requires a lot of planning to get the most out of. I hope my tips will help you plan your perfect Disneyland holiday.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What age is best for Disneyland?
Honestly, any age! Disneyland caters to all ages from 0-100 as long as you love Disney. I’ve been as an adult without kids, with a 2 year old, and most recently with my almost 5-year-old. Each time is different but equally enjoyable.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of year should we go?
Disneyland is gorgeous to visit all-year round. They have special seasonal events around Halloween and Christmas in particular, making these two times of year a really special time to visit. Check out the crowds at the time of year you’re considering visiting at this website – if you can visit during a slower time, I would suggest doing so. We have visited twice in June or July and both times it has been very hot and very busy.

Where should we stay?
There are so many choices! Disneyland have their own hotels that are on the park grounds and give you special benefits – the biggest two being early entry into the parks every day (an hour before general admission) and a special entry to Disney California Adventure Park through Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa so you’ll never have to line up. While the Disneyland hotels also offer other great features that carry the Disney magic to all areas of your stay, they are also the pricey accomodation option – so if you’re on a budget you’ll want to consider staying at a “good neighbor” hotel instead.

All the benefits of staying at a Disneyland hotel

We have stayed at two different “good neighbor” hotels, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Park, and the Carousel Inn and Suites. Both were half the price of the Disneyland hotels and had excellent locations – directly across the road from Disneyland, making our commute each morning a mere 5 minutes walk.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How long should we stay for?
We have stayed for three days both times we visited, and this was the perfect amount for us. We spent one day each at Disneyland and California Adventure park, and one day hopping between the two. If you buy tickets for three or more consecutive days, you get a magic morning included, where you can enter Disneyland an hour early (7am!) on a designated day.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What’s a “magic morning”?
Magic mornings are the days when you can enter the park at 7am instead of 8am, which is when the parks usually open. You need to have a 3+ day pass to be able to use a magic morning early entry. Magic mornings are held on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. It’s recommended that you arrive an hour and a quarter before the regular park opening. We didn’t have magic mornings with our trip this time around, and we went to California Adventure park that day instead – which turned out to be a brilliant choice as the park was pretty much empty – everyone was at Disneyland using their magic morning!

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What tickets should we get?
You have a choice between single park passes, which allow you entry into one park per day, or “park hoppers” which let you go back and forth between the parks. If you buy multi day passes (which is the cheapest way to buy tickets), you will have to choose between the two types, you can’t mix and match. With older kids, I’d recommend park hoppers, particularly if you will be there three days. I found a full day at each park was perfect, plus that extra day to jump between the two and finish up a few things we missed or wanted to do again.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

I always advise buying tickets at least a few days in advance. While the queues have always been short to buy tickets when we’ve arrived, it just cuts out one extra step to get into the park. When you buy a ticket online you can choose an eTicket which you then present on your phone (or printed out) at the gates for entry.

More info on ticket types and prices

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of day should I arrive?
The parks open at 8am (with the exception of magic mornings when it opens at 7 if you have valid tickets). My best advice on getting the most out of a Disneyland day is to arrive well before the park opens. It can take quite a while to get through security, and also through the gates. When you use your tickets for the first time, you will have a photo taken and linked online to your pass, and you will need to sign the tickets they give you – all making the entry process that much longer.

We enjoyed the early mornings the most as there were the fewest people in the park, so lines were shorter.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I plan a day at Disneyland?
My best advice is to plan to do all the rides first thing in the morning. As soon as the gates open, go straight to the rides you want to do the most that are the most popular rides, and either do the rides immediately, or get a FASTPASS (see more below) to return and do the ride later without having to line up to do so.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

We spent the first three hours just doing all of the rides, then took a break for lunch and spent the afternoons watching shows, meeting characters, shopping, eating ice cream, and watching the parades.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Find out the height requirement for rides in advance and plan accordingly!

This site gives you the average wait time for each ride, so you can see which ones are the most popular.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What is a FASTPASS?
A FASTPASS lets you skip the queue for the most popular rides at the park. Look for the FASTPASS Distribution sign near the entrance of an attraction, check the Return Time displayed on the sign, insert your Disneyland Resort admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine and take with you the FASTPASS ticket it spits out, printed with your return time. Then return to the ride during your time window at any time, show your FASTPASS ticket to the Cast Member at the entrance to the ride, and enjoy a minimal wait. Note: You can only have one FASTPASS at a time.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Attractions that have FASTPASS
Entertainment that has FASTPASS

Find out more about FASTPASS!

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What are some tips for watching the parades?
The parades are incredibly popular, with people staking out their front row spots over 45 minutes before the parade begins. If you watch carefully around the park from an hour before the parades start, Disneyland staff will begin marking out the areas for crowd control. Grab a spot on a bench or on the gutter edge and either all sit with some snacks and wait, or leave one adult there while the rest of the family entertain themselves in other ways while you’re waiting.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

The parades wind their way from the back of the park to the front, so if the start time is 4:30pm, it will reach around the front of the park around 4:45-4:50pm.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Can we take food and drink into the park?
Yes you can. Take a large refillable water bottle – you can refill with water at any drink station through out the parks. You can also ask for cups of ice water at any restaurant/fast food outlet. You are allowed to take whatever food and snacks you like into the park, which is a great way to cut down on costs. We didn’t take many snacks with us as we were staying at a very basic hotel with nowhere to keep food. We ate park food all day and didn’t find it overly expensive.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I take a stroller?
If your child fits in one, absolutely yes. Many hours of walking will tired even older children. There is stroller parking at every ride, and every restaurant/facility is stroller-accessible. I also like having a stroller to put our stuff in, like water bottles and snacks, and the canopy provides much needed shade during the heat.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I use the Disneyland photographers?
Personally, I always utilise the Disneyland photography service, called PhotoPass. For $39 a day you can download all of the images taken by the Disneyland photographers. The photographers are scattered around both parks all throughout the day and take some really great quality photos – with the entire family in them! I love that I can get out whole family in the same shot with zero effort, and I also like to leave my giant SLR camera at home and just take my point and shoot with me, knowing the Disneyland photographers will have their excellent cameras to snap portraits for me that save me lugging around my behemoth for the day.

disneyland-pro-day3-3

When getting your photo taken, you can either download the Disneyland app to your phone and present the app to the photographer and add the photos to your account, or the photographer will give you a small card with a bar code that you can then add into your account yourself later on.

You can take the cards to a Disneyland PhotoPass store to buy the images at the park, or log into the Disneyland PhotoPass website later to buy and download them.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I keep on top of what’s happening during the day?
This trip I discovered the excellent (free) Disneyland app. It allowed me to see the wait times on every ride, has a map with a compass so you know where you are, and also shows what characters are where for meet and greets, where food outlets and bathrooms are, and times for entertainment such as shows and parades.

disneyland-pro-cars-3

How do I meet characters at Disneyland?
Characters roam around the parks all day. Some have designated spots and times that you can find either on the app or by asking at Guest Services inside the park. The core characters such as Minnie, Mickey and friends and the princesses have designated places where they can be found.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Others simply roam and you have to be lucky to spot them, such as Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. If you want an easy way to meet lots of the characters all together, book in for a Character Breakfast. Our faves are Ariel’s Grotto, which has all of the princesses some around to each table, and Plaza Inn, which has Minnie Mouse, plus core Disney faves like Donald Duck, Hook and Chip & Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore.

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I meet the Disney princesses?
You can meet three princesses at any time of day at the Fantasy Faire inside Fantasyland, Disneyland. The princesses change regularly so you won’t know which ones will be there until you go inside.

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

The princesses are in seperate rooms and you walk around to meet them one at a time. You can also happen upon princesses outside Cinderella’s Castle – we found Aurora this way. If you want to meet the majority of the princesses in one go, the only way is to book in for a character breakfast at Ariels Grotto. When we visited in 2014, met Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle here. If you want to meet Jasmine, Merida or Tiana, look for them roaming around the park.

Anna and Elsa Disneyland meet and greet via christineknight.me

What about Anna and Elsa?
The sisters are located inside the Animation Academy in California Adventure Park, and are the only princesses you meet together. We really enjoyed meeting Anna and Elsa – they have a great repartee together, making the sisters a really fun duo to chat with.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Is there any thing else “Frozen”?
Yes, there is a fantastic new live “Frozen” show in the Hyperion Theatre in California Adventure Park. the show goes for an hour, and runs several times a day. You can get a FASTPASS to the show – tickets are distributed outside the theatre in Hollywood Lane.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater California Adventure Park

I would advise returning to line up for the show 40 minutes before start time to guarantee a decent seat. The show is excellent, and does a fantastic job of telling the Frozen story minus the scary bits.

More info on Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Theater

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland via christineknight.me

What else should I know about that’s awesome at Disneyland?
My almost five-year old particularly enjoyed being turned into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and taking part in jedi training at the Trials of the Temple show.

Jedi training Disneyland via christineknight.me

Do you have any questions about how to plan the perfect Disneyland holiday?

Tips on the best things to do at Disneyland with little kids

How to survive (and enjoy!) Disneyland with a toddler

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!